First of all, Paul Sinclair is not trying to be Robert Plant.
Although the singer has been performing the music of the legendary rock band Led Zeppelin for more than a decade now, he is reluctant to compare himself to lead singer Plant, whom he considers one of the greatest vocalists in rock history.
“What made (Plant) such a standout vocalist is his ability to transition from his regular register to a high, falsetto tone,” Sinclair said. “His falsetto was so robust and had so much character. My falsetto is good, but it’s not as durable as Robert Plant’s.”
Still, Sinclair has made a good living singing in Plant’s soaring vocal style with his band Get the Led Out. The Philadelphia-based ensemble of six musicians has carved a musical niche performing the vast music catalog of Led Zeppelin without resorting to impersonation — in other words, don’t call them a tribute band.
“The perception of a tribute band is musicians performing in ill-fitting costumes with bad wigs,” Sinclair said. “Our goal is to recreate the the multilayered recordings they made, the recordings everyone remembers, live, on stage.”
These songs include such classics as “Black Dog,” “Rock and Roll,” “The Immigrant Song,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Kashmir,” “Ramble On” and, of course, the inevitable “Stairway to Heaven.”
Get the Led Out will be in concert August 19th at Fraze Pavilion, Kettering Ohio. The band has sold out there show here for the past three years.
Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin
Sinclair and Get the Led Out lead guitarist Paul Hammond have been friends since they were teenagers in the 1970s. They began writing original songs together, their inspiration being great 1970s rock bands that included Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin.
Sinclair said he spent the majority of the next two decades singing in bands and trying to become a rock star.
“With the time and effort I put into being a rock star, I could have been a brain surgeon,” he said.
In 2003, Sinclair and Hammond’s love and respect for the musical legacy of Led Zeppelin led them to form Get the Led Out. Their goal became not just to perform the music live but to recreate the complex sound quality of Led Zeppelin recordings on stage — not an easy technical feat.
Even the Zep didn’t do it
The layering of guitars, vocals and other instruments that made the recordings of Plant, guitarist Jimmy Page, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham so unique and powerful is something even Led Zeppelin didn’t try to to recreate live, Sinclair said.
In the recording studio, Sinclair said, Page was an innovator who would overdub guitars, keyboards and vocals on multiple tracks, something the band couldn’t reproduce live with 1970s’ technology.
“Many people don’t quite understand the layering of instruments in recordings,” he said. “Zeppelin never did what we started doing live. In a song like ‘Ramble On,’ they would have had to add more instruments than four people could play live at any one time. And they weren’t about hiring more musicians.”
The Top 5 Zep favorites?
Sinclair said his top five favorite Led Zeppelin songs to perform live are “Heartbreaker,” “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You,” “Ramble On,” “Hey Hey
What Can I Do” (the B side of “The Immigrant Song” single) and yes, “Stairway to Heaven.”
“I don’t want to be corny, but when we play that song in concert it’s like a religious experience,” he said.
Sinclair said Led Zeppelin’s music catalog is so vast that every concert Get the Led Out plays is different. The band also performs lesser-known tunes that Led Zeppelin rarely or never performed in concert, as well as an acoustic set with songs such as “Tangerine” and the “Battle of Evermore” performed with their original instrumentation.
“Of 73 songs, we perform about 60 of them,” he said. “We play about 20 songs a night for over two hours, so we can change from night to night to make the shows fresh for everyone.”
3 generations cheering
What amazes Sinclair the most during performances is looking out into the crowd and seeing three generations of fans cheering for their favorite Zeppelin songs.
“Led Zeppelin are sort of the classical composers of the rock era,” he said. “I believe 100 years from now they will be looked at as the Bach or Beethoven of our time. So we’re helping to keep this music alive for future generations.”